The International Writers Magazine: US Politics
A week or 2 after
George W. Bush assumed the Presidency in early 2001 I was struck
with the vision of a disastrous 4 years that lay ahead.
I did not foresee 9/11 specifically, nor am I claiming Nostradaman talents,
but given Ws, well - stupidity (recall his press conference in
April? - the man literally can handle no more than 2 or 3 soundbites
at a time- after that hes a flounder. ) I knew that the economy
was doomed and that Saddams days were numbered. Only the details
In speaking with some friends of mine I made this guarantee- by the
time the next election cycle kicks in this nation will be speaking of
the good ol Clinton years. Boy, was I prescient! Now,
let me say, I was not a fan of Slick Willy. I did vote for him in 1992,
but only because George Bush Pere had failed so abysmally and I just
could not take seriously the evil dwarf that kept interrupting others
by chirping, EX-CUSE ME, can Ah finish? Can Ah finish?
In Clinton I saw a man of great potential, but also a man who seemed
very self-satisfied with just being President. This assessment was spot-on,
as in his first year in office, backed by the good will all newcomers
get, Clinton refused to expend any political capital on ramming down
a national healthcare plan through congress. While it would not have
been as comprehensive as most wanted, once it was on the board it would,
via the logy of its presence, constantly be improved and tweaked, just
as Social Security has. Dont even get me started on the utter
myth of a Social Security crisis because weve heard that since
Nixon and its solvency is always questioned, and always dealt with.
Instead, after a little newspaper tap across his muzzle Clinton went
into hibernation for a couple of years until the next election and when
he awoke he found that the cackling mental midgets from Rip Van Winkle
had taken control of Congress.
Now, relieved of political responsibility, and able to fob off his Executive
Sloth on Newt & The Gangs infamous Contract On America, old
Slick Willy re-emerged, played the underdog theme to the hilt, and cruised
to re-election over the narcoleptic Bob Dole, the Incredible Shrinking
Paranoid, and the only man in the nation with any integrity- Ralph Nader,
who got my vote.
Once re-elected, Clinton, as lame duck, basically had time to kill,
organize his Presidential Library, and shudder behind the Presidential
desk as Monica Lewinsky deepthroated him. Now, dont get me wrong-
Ive been blown by some mediocre to unattractive women, too. Just
shut your eyes and envision a supermodel. After all, it REALLY ISNT
sex - on that Clinton was right. But, he was the President dammit. I
may have had to have been blown 4th-rate floozies and dreamt they were
the lips of Halle Berry or Christy Turlington- but he really could have
had their lips! If that lack of judgment wasnt galling enough
to diminish Willy in the eyes of American men, then the Republicans
decided to impeach the man for lying about fellatio, something these,
mostly declared prim and proper Christians, had no right to know, yet
seemed to masturbate incessantly over - right up through a failed impeachment.
All through the 2000 campaign Al Ive Never Really Liked
The President, Anyway Gore distanced himself from his vastly more
worldly and skilled boss. Say what you will of Clinton (and Ive
said it before you) but the man was flat-out the best and most natural
national politician since FDR.
Then W proved the value of having grotesquely superfunded crooks vis-à-vis
Gores merely megafunded crooks, and then my vision takes sway.
Yes, Clinton was a scoundrel, and a leader of appallingly limited vision
and ambition for his talents- but he was competent. In historical terms
his closest predecessor was Teddy Roosevelt. Like Clinton, TR twice
presided over boom years in America. Granted, TR - to his
credit and his partys shame- was the last of the populist/activist
Republicans on the national scene, and unlike Willy hes almost
always listed in the Great or Near-Great categories accorded our leaders.
But he never quite has pierced into that upper crust triumvirate represented
by George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, or Franklin Roosevelt. Why? Simply
because he lived in relatively small times rife with prosperity
and the complacency that brings. He knew that periods of turmoil and
war were what called out the latent greatness in some Presidents (like
the trio aforementioned), and the worst in others- even some who would
have otherwise been excellent leaders (think Thomas Jefferson, Ulysses
Grant, and LBJ). Why else was he slavering to reclaim his job in 1912
and 1916? Yes, he resented Howard Tafts betrayal,
but it was the beat of war drums in Europe that brought the Great White
Hunter back into the fray. Imagine his anguish over the initially insipid
sideline stands of the eunuch Woodrow Wilsons toe-wiggling entry
into the Great War, then his utter mishandling of the peace and the
Soviet Revolution which led to the incarnadine century weve all
read of, if not been hued in. Similarly Bill Clinton must be pulling
at his thick mane over the cruel joke history played on him by not having
9/11 occur in his first term - with the failed 1993 bombing. Despite
basically being a do-nothing its pretty clear that Clinton had
a very effective anti-terrorism program that thwarted an earlier possible
national tragedy at LAX, and also had relative successes in the Balkans,
and squeezing Iran toward political maturity.
Compared to W he looks Solomonic - if not Lincolnian- in his foreign
policy. But it has to kill the man that the defining moment
of his generation happened on the Presidential watch of a total incompetent.
Despite his manifest flaws I am almost certain that Clinton would have
handled Afghanistan better- certainly in humanitarian terms, and would
have not rushed into Iraq, at least not without making sure a Norman
Schwarzkopf was in charge- not a political flea like Paul Bremer. He
also would probably have insisted on a 5 or 10 year reconstruction plan,
along the lines of that we loosed forth in post-war Japan, as well as
far more many troops to secure the peace, in place before invading.
Is it not manifest that the Bush-Cheney hubris (not to mention the bloodsucking
Hallibuton) is behind the Iraq failure?
Yes, it kills Clinton, TRs closest modern counterpart, that unlike
his idol JFK, who had less than 3 years in office, he never had a chance
to shine under the weight of BIG HISTORY. The closest comparison to
9/11s occurrence under W would be to think if Kennedy HADNT
stolen 1960 from Nixon. Would any of us even be here if poor demented
Dicky had been Prez when Khrushchev laid his dick on the table in November
of 62? Sometimes dishonesty has its place.
And sometimes it doesnt. Just ask the mounting dead and their
families who wonder what the hell any of this in Iraq has to do with
pulling a Mussolini on Osama bin Laden? Ill admit- when the towers
fell my first thought was- Saddam pulled his Castro on the Bushes. I
even went along with the WMD rationale for the war because, as an informed
citizen, I KNEW Cheney & co. must be right because THEY sold WMD
to Saddam throughout the 80s! Still, I knew there was a BIG LIE in there
somewhere, and a mans karma- and Ws was writ FUCK
UP since tunneling out of Babs- cannot be forestalled indefinitely.
So I return to where my vision pointed those years past, little knowing
I would be one of those people I spoke of in my guarantee. All that
the country need do to get rid of W is let him keep killing his own
legacy. [PLEASE SOMEONE FORWARD THIS ADVICE TO JOHN KERRY!] As for Willy?
It must gall him not only that history snubbed him, but that the buffoon
it smiled upon has so mishandled the job that his total incompetence
far outweighs his mammoth deceits in the minds of voters. Yet, this
is the bane of Presidents cursed with small times and mere competence-
any flaw, no matter how minor, is magnified. Bush lies over and over
about Iraq and people seem slow in caring over the mess American blood
makes, while the worst Willys lies could cause was a premature
ejaculation, yet the public recoiled in disgust, as if they had been
asked to swallow.
Bill Clinton now has to console himself with the verity that historians
in decades hence will come to appreciate his small, visionless, competent
oasis of an administration in the middle of the Reagan and double Bush
disasters. And surely he knows now the verity of the old canard about
the need for THE BIG LIE, and rues its late dawning. After all, even
his successor not qualified to clean swimming pools was able to learn
that lesson on Day 1.
© Dan Schneider, May 2004
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